You never learned how to swim
But in my dream, I see you trying hard
Fighting your way towards the light.
Swimming for all you’re worth
Trying to get back to the surface
Of this somewhat murky pond.
Never realized how hard it was-
What effort it took to focus on the task
To collect the necessary resources
To be present for just a moment….
You’d be there for a while
But like a timer going off,
You’d be gone again
Decorating beautiful fantasy dwellings
(Which, sadly, only you could see and appreciate).
I’m sorry i was impatient.
I didn’t understand.
If you make it back to the surface,
I’ll try harder. Be more patient.
Visit more often,
I love you.
Be at peace.
When kids are little, and all hell breaks loose, it’s developmentally normal to think whatever just happened is their fault. There’s all kinds of twists that journey can take….”Daddy wouldn’t xxxx if you weren’t a bad girl”….”Mommy wouldn’t xxx if you did/didn’t xxxxx“… A powerful burden some kids carry in silence, trying to keep things together so the world doesn’t fall apart. Sometimes acting out, other times acting like angels….
I was 30 years old when I heard the speaker say: “It wasn’t your fault-and, you didn’t deserve it.” They spoke to the kids/adults who kept asking themselves why; what they could have done different; what they did to deserve “it”. I never realized before how I’d stuffed/packaged it, but I guess I always figured if I tried harder, worked smarter, believed better, didn’t need anything , wasn’t a bother….it would have been different. My logical/rational/non-emotion admitting side, resonated with it. But the hidden, reserved, removed, guarded part of me, fell on my face before God and tearfully said “Thank you.” The questions remained as to why some things in life had been the way they were, but I could start letting go of thinking it was because I was defective or insufficient or had failed to measure up to the task.
Today, in the CCU, an angel in a nurse’s uniform gave me an explanation I didn’t think I would ever receive in this lifetime. She explained about the “elephant in our living room,” that had lived there undiagnosed and nameless for so long. It’s an illness- a biological/physiological malfunction. There is no medication or treatment that would have controlled it for long. The changing cycles were too rapid. It wasn’t our fault, but it wasn’t hers either. It’s just the way it was. Nothing has changed, but everything is different, understanding that she really couldn’t help it.
Today, I give thanks, and explain to my kids how grateful I am they have learned to live with grace and tolerance and love a somewhat challenging person who has loved them the best she could.
At the end of your life, what’s gonna matter? I had quite a few hours to think about that one yesterday as I sat by my Mom’s bedside and held her hand, tried to keep her calm, and listened to her talk. Her monologue made more sense than usual-was less combative and demanding, occasionally, even kind. My sister-in-law commented on the different than usual theme in Mom’s monologue: yesterday, Mom seemed to value her family. It’s not always like that, so for us, it was a gift. She was able to admit wanting to die, and being scared. Up close and personal real emotions, not the things she would normally have expressed. She was grateful for a hand to hold, and to not be alone.
Today, she’s still hanging in there. Doctors say it could get better slowly or worse quickly. So for today, I’ll be grateful for being present for that one day when it seemed she was present too, being able to be there for her.
I’m not sure what people are supposed to feel at this point….when the hospital calls and says “Your mother is going downhill fast, and may end up on a respirator tomorrow”…when they want you to fax the paperwork that tells them what her wishes are for how things go from here…when you look at the mixed blessing that her life has been at times….and you question if you have done enough to be a bearer of light to someone who at times seemed like darkness…and you pray for grace to be graceful under pressure and to let her know in whatever way she can receive it, that you know it was her illness, not her intention, when she was difficult, unreasonable or impossible…and you pray again for grace to be light and to help family members as they struggle with the enigma that is her life…..if this is the end of her days, I pray she finds peace, and that as a child in His arms, she is at rest, undamaged, at last….